Dust Storm over Chinas Taklimakan Desert, on April 14, 2002, from the MODIS Instrument on NASAs Terra Satellite
Dust from China’s Takla-Makan desert traveled more than 20,000 kilometers [12,000 miles] in about two weeks, crossing the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean, before settling atop the French Alps. Chinese dust plumes had been known to reach North America and even Greenland, but had never before been reported in Europe.
An international team of scientists, using atmospheric computer models, studied dust that traveled the globe from February 25 to March 7, 1990. Their findings are published in a paper authored by Francis E. Grousset of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, and the University of Bordeaux I in France, and colleagues. It appears in Geophysical Research Letters, published by the American Geophysical Union.
Research conducted in 1994 showed that over the 20 preceding years, a score of red dust events coated the snow cover in the Alps and Pyrenees mountains. The dust that topped these European mountain ranges was sampled and stored for comparison with dust from various parts of the world. Scientists analyze the minerals and composition of certain distinctive elements of the dust, especially neodymium, to determine its origin.
Harvey Leifert, Rob Gutro | AGU / NASA
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